Australia are in a must-win situation when they take on Sri Lanka in the fifth and final one day international at Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Wednesday.
We’ll bring you the live coverage of the action throughout this fifth ODI at Hobart from 1.50 pm AEST on January 23.
Preview: It is difficult to hypothesise who had the upper hand when the fourth match got rained out, but had the game been reduced to 20 or so overs, Sri Lanka could have had an advantage.
That is evidently why Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene had the right to feel aggrieved with the decision to call off the match, despite what he thought were playable conditions.
Still, Sri Lanka can take heart from two facts. One, for the third game in a row, the bowlers did an impressive job of tying up the Australian batsmen and had it not been for a 40-run stand for the last wicket, the hosts would have barely touched 200.
Secondly and more vitally, Sri Lanka cannot lose the series from here, in what is Jayawardene’s last series as captain.
Everything to play for Australia, however, given the situation they find themselves; one that was quite unimaginable at the end of the first ODI of the series.
Having won the Test series 3-0 and taken a 1-0 lead in the ODIs with a second-string line-up, Australia would have fancied an easy series stroll when the main guys returned to the team.
Instead, three poor batting performances in a row have left Australia in a bit of a soup going into this final ODI and if the conditions at Hobart remain overcast, things may not get any better.
What could add to Australia’s woes is an ankle sprain for Michael Clarke in pre-match training that leaves him in doubt for the game. George Bailey will take over the captaincy in Clarke’s absence and Glenn Maxwell could make it to the playing XI.
The good news from the previous game for the home side is Dave Warner’s batting at the top of the order. Warner’s first half-century since June 2012 was one filled with caution that he mixed with crisp stroke-play and aggressive running between the wickets to push the Aussies early.
Nuwan Kulasekara continued to remain the Australian batting bugbear though. After his five-wicket haul in the third ODI, Kulasekara followed it with figures of 3/30 in his 10 overs and was ably supported by Lasith Malinga (2/33 in 10).
As suspected earlier, Malinga’s potency increases manifold when someone at the other end is making life difficult for the batsmen and Australia will now need to come up with a tactic to counter the pair.
We will bring you the live coverage throughout the game from Hobart and hope to receive your opinions as the action unfolds.